November 30, 2021
A regional language is geographically spoken in a region that is part of a larger state. It may or may not be in the majority locally. According to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages: “The adjective“ regional ”concerns languages spoken in a limited part of the territory of a State, in which they can, moreover, be spoken by the majority of citizens. As examples, we can cite Occitan or Breton in France, Sardinian in Italy, Kashubian in Poland, Zazaki in Turkey, Kabyle in Algeria, Bashkir in Russia, Tibetan in China, Navajo in the United States.
A regional language is, from the point of view of political status, different from the official language of the state where it is spoken, and whose speakers ask the question of its status alongside the official language. Regional languages are sometimes recognized and protected by regional administration or by the state: a large number of states around the world, including the majority of European states, recognize regional languages, and grant them a status, such as This is the case, for example, of the French Community of Belgium, Spain, Italy or even Switzerland. In other cases the State grants official status only to the official language of the country: this is the case with the regional languages of France, which can be studied or presented to the baccalaureate, but cannot be used in no public service and no administration, where only French is official.
We can distinguish this terminology from that of the minority language.
Status and evolutions
A regional and / or minority language in one State can be official and / or majority in another: in Europe, this is the case of French in the Aosta Valley, or of Slovenian in Austria. Changes in status may occur, either through laws within a state, or as a result of political and territorial changes. Illustrating the first case, in Belgium, where since independence in 1831 only French was official, the law of May 22, 1878 authorized the Flemish provinces and districts to use French and Dutch indifferently, then, forty years later, the Law of July 31, 1921 made the latter the only official language of the Dutch-speaking regions, thus putting an end to the francization of their inhabitants. Illustrating the second case, the political fragmentation of Yugoslavia has also split into four the Serbo-Croatian language, henceforth called "BCMS" (informal abbreviation of the four official names of "Bosnian", "Croatian", "Montenegrin" and "Serbian" ), and which is currently evolving in increasingly different languages, while the fragmentation of the USSR has allowed minority languages with regional status, such as Latvian, Romanian or Georgian, to become majority and official languages in new states which emerged from it (Latvia, Moldova and Georgia respectively).
Within a federal state, an official and / or majority language in one province, region, land or state can be regional and / or minority in others: in Canada, this is the case for French respectively in Quebec, and in the other provinces of the country; in India, from Tamil respectively to Tamil Nadu and in the other States of the Indian Union.
In Belgium, the official languages are French, Dutch and German. The eventual recognition of regional languages is a competence which is the responsibility of the communities.
The Flemish Community does not recognize any because the Nederlandse Taalunie, responsible for the promotion of Dutch in the Netherlands and Flanders, considers all the regional languages spoken on its territory to be dialects of Dutch. There is none in common